Russell Simmons, Annan Urge African Aid To Double

On Saturday June 2, over one million fans gathered across four continents for 10 concerts to help put an end to poverty in Africa. Calling upon the globe's biggest artists and celebrities, Live 8 was a worldwide spectacle dubbed by activist Bob Geldof as "the greatest concert ever." The concerts, which took place in London, Philadelphia, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Barrie, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Cornwall and Moscow, sent a strong message to every leader worldwide to eradicate the poverty crisis in Africa.

Russell Simmons, who played a large role in producing the Philadelphia concert, told he hopes the activists, governments and organizers can exceed the present goal. "We are looking to double the $25 billion that was committed to 50 billion. I have been talking to various members of the President's policy team, as well as Ken Melman [Chairman of the Republican Party], and he says that the President is listening."

According to Simmons, the poverty crisis in Africa is something that could have been avoided. "Thirty thousand people are dying from extreme poverty. They are dying because we won't give them 45 cents a day for the drugs they need. People are dying from starvation and health issues that could be prevented."

As one of the most influential and powerful figures in Hip-Hop, Russell Simmons helped bring the Hip-Hop community to the Philadelphia show. Simmons gathered Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Destiny's Child and Kanye West, who along with host Will Smith, showed that Hip-Hop does care.

The music mogul has always asserted that Hip-Hop is the world's most influential culture. "Puffy is more important than Kofi Annan [United Nations Secretary-General ] right now to a lot of young people" stated Simmons. "So these celebrities need to be put in the middle of these kinds of missions. You can have all the old rock stars in the world, but in my opinion, they don't carry the same kind of weight that Hip Hop carries." Whether or not the Live 8 concerts were a success remains to be seen. However, as Simmons states, "We all know the drill, now its just a question of can we get a fire going."

On July 6, the eight leaders of the world's most powerful countries will meet for the G8 Summit in Scotland and the Live 8 concert series persuaded G8 to double the aid given to Africa, cancel debt and reduce trade injustice. With Britain hosting this years Summit, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is calling for the crisis in Africa to be a priority that must be addressed. The Live 8 concerts answered Blair's call, as artists such as Pink Floyd, Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder and U2, among others, performed and showed their support.

"The poor need you. Don't forget them,” Kofi Annan told G8 prior to the Live 8 concerts. "I hope the focus on Africa and the fight against poverty will help move our concerns forward. Already there have been very good developments. The European Union members have more or less doubled their assistance, and 50 per cent of that will go to Africa."